Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mexico is calling!

Several weeks ago it occurred to me that this has been the longest period of time in probably a decade that I haven’t traveled somewhere outside of the Great Lakes. Contrary to this year, in 2011 I found myself in a dozen countries…not just five states. This is blatantly unacceptable. Where have I not been yet? What can be done on a budget? Cancun, Mexico is probably one of the cheapest places to fly to south of the U.S. border – ok, let’s go to the Yucatán Peninsula! I created a quick itinerary and within a few hours of my initial idea, I started throwing out open invitations on Facebook. While most were too busy with university exams, visiting family and other preplanned trips, two birders eventually jumped on board including Eric Ripma from Indiana.

For the past couple weeks I’ve been working on the ultimate itinerary - to see as much as we can in a two week period.  I also enjoy the challenge of seeing how far one can go by spending as little as possible. With that said, we are not renting a car relying on the Mexican bus system and will camp for most of the trip. Here’s our route:

We’ll land in Cancun and proceed doing a big loop starting off on Cozumel for island endemics. We’ll then head south spending a couple nights outside Felipe Carrillo Puerto birding along the famous Vigia Chica Road before heading further south into Belize. When planning trips, I like to include bordering countries – especially when they have a lot of potential. In Belize we’ll bird the Mountain Pine Ridge (Stygian Owl!) and the Caracol ruins. Seeing that the famous Tikal Ruins are just on the other side of the border with Guatemala, we’ll also bird there for a day before heading back into the Yucatán. From here we’ll head west to the incredible Calakmul Ruins and finish the trip at the northern tip of the peninsula at Ria Lagartos.

I find it interesting to also include photos of items packed. Being a backpacking trip, we can’t carry much. Here’s what I’m taking.

From left to right: sleeping bag (2lbs 12oz.), solo backpackers tent,
 camera gear, acoustic recording equipment (from the Cornell Lab of
Ornithology to record songs/calls), dry bags, passport, binoculars,
extra clothes and a few toiletries and essentials. Surprisingly enough,
on my 4-month, nine county backpacking trip around Southern
Africa, I packed even lighter than this!

 All of these items fit perfectly into a camelback backpack and dry sac.
My flight leaves early tomorrow morning (Dec 10th) at 5:25am and I won’t return until Christmas Eve. Even though I have birded much of the southern U.S. border, Panama and Ecuador, this trip should still put my world list over the 2,000 milestone! In the meantime, enjoy the holidays and check back after Christmas for a trip report!

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